Upgrade from Dumb to Smart Trainer

Hi guys!

First time posting in a Very long time. I started when you simply downloaded the Sufferfest videos and used RPE to guess how hard to push. For years I’ve been battling my way up Mt. Sufferlandria with a Kinetic Road Machine. and it has done me well. I recently purchased a WaHoo Kickr Snap in an effort to move into the Smart trainer arena. It’s still in the box waiting for Santa.

My question to you folks is, did you ever regret moving from a dumb to a smart trainer? The reason I ask this is that with the Road Machine I can largely pick my effort level on the fly regardless of the targets set for the ride and I kind of like that. For example, if I’m doing Joy Ride and want to give some extra effort for certain parts or back off (cheat?) for others I can easily do that. I don’t believe that’s as easy to achieve with a smart trainer (or maybe I’m wrong?) and that’s making me second guess making this move.

Or, have you found that the advantages provided by the smart trainer far outweigh what a dumb trainer offers?

I hope I’ve made some sense here. If not, I can elaborate. I would appreciate any and all views and apologize if this topic has been covered before.



I never regretted the move.
You can always ride in Level mode, and ride based on RPE.
You can switch back and forth between ERG and Level mode during a ride.


My first trainer was a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine. Great unit and served its purpose very very well. The Sufferfest was my first exposure to indoor training.

My next trainer was a Kickr Snap and I have not regretted it for a second. Then, in late 2018, as a retirement gift to myself I got the direct drive Kickr '18 and a Kickr Climb. Again, absolutely no regrets. Like @Heretic says, you can always ride in Level Mode (where your pedaling speed and gear changes create the resistance and you can ride to RPE).

That does, to a certain extent, defeat the purpose of a smart trainer though for a program like SYSTM where the majority of the workouts have set targets. There are some, like part of Half Monty and all of Full Frontal where you are instructed to ride in Level mode in order to set your personal targets for future training and there are some vids where the power targets are very high and the efforts so short that Level mode will provide a better experience (eg. Violator, or any of the no-vids where the focus is on all-out sprint efforts).

That said, our subscriptions also include RGT, which, like Zwift and some other programs is a simulation. Smart trainers really really shine here, imho. As the elevation changes (and you are riding in what is essentially Level mode, aka Slope mode) the resistance on your trainer changes in accordance with it. So, when you’re riding the Alpe d’Huez or the Stelvio, or Box Hill or Leith Hill or any hill…and the gradient goes up, your effort will have to go up as well or you will come to a standstill, just like irl! Absolutely brilliant!

Congrats on your purchase and welcome (back) to the Forums @Oldcatnewtricks!


~20 years ago or so I had rollers and a dumb trainer. Very occasionally rode them. ~2010 I started riding Computrainers (early smart trainer) and it was a whole new world. Much more engaging in SIM mode (resistance changes based on virtual ride terrain) and much better (IMO) workouts in ERG mode. And as pointed out, you can always turn a smart trainer into a dumb trainer by using it in Level mode, …of course it’ll still accurately read power if you chose to avail yourself of that information.

Some of us remember the old Schwinn Airdyne bicycles.



Oh yeah!!

Semi-fitness equipment + torture contraption in one.

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This, exactly. It gives you so much more, but also you don’t lose what you have (plus also perhaps just a trainer upgrade, (better?) power measurement - depends on your current trainer of course).


No regrets at all. The smart trainer is a game changer for most workouts - that fact that it controls power means one less thing to think about while doing the workout. Workouts like the ProRides would be totally different without a smart trainer, to the point where I don’t think I would do them.

As others have said, you can always put your smart trainer into Level mode when you want to control the effort yourself, so nothing is lost in the transition to the smart trainer.

You can still get them…Fifty year old tech that still kicks your ass.


I love my smart trainer. No regrets.

Over the course of 10 years I moved from ‘dumb’ to Kickr Snap then Kickr V5 this year. Each iteration was better than the previous.

Smart trainers make indoor riding more immersive. I could ride in level mode, but I love ERG mode: all I have to do is turn the legs at the required cadence. I reckon it’s improved my training efficiency and therefore fitness.

I did debate the investment, but for me it’s about my health, and staying fit so I can ride with mates, and the $$$ was worth it. Now, I even love riding indoors for its own sake!


Thank you all for your replies!

It would seem then that the move to a smart trainer is the right choice. I felt that may be the case but was interested in hearing the opinions of those more experienced than me with respect to this. You have been heard! The Snap goes under the tree to wait for December 25th, if I can last that long…:grin:


y’know, Santa isn’t real right? I overheard GvA say something about it at the 9 Hammers Tavern so…

I appreciate the encouragement Glen but I think I’ll stay “dumb” for a little while longer. That said, it’s been a while since I visited the tavern. I may need to take a stroll over there and see what’s up.:grin::beer:

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Same old same old mumbles, grumbles

MRRRPPHHAAAAGGHH! : “Hello! Have you suffered today?” (Traditional greeting)
FFFFFFGGGHHAAA!! : “Yes! More than you, my doughy minion.” (Traditional response)
THHHPPHHHAABBBAAARFF! : “You must excuse me. I must complete another interval of soul-shattering intensity and duration! May your competitors rue the day they pinned on a number!”
OOOOONYOUURLEEFFT!!: “Sufferlandrian on the course. Please abandon all hope of victory.”
IWBMATTKYT (pronounced “Aye-Wuu-Bee-Ma-TEET”): “I Will Beat My Ass Today to Kick Yours Tomorrow.”


I only regret it now that I use systm and have to ride in level mode anyway due to the lack of power match :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:.

I really like having a smart trainer. Getting hills in online is great because there aren’t any around me. Also erg mode forces me to hit the power outputs. No breaks allowed.

Indeed. It’s a merciless taskmaster.